No 10 defends ministers over tax advice claims

Downing Street today moved to defend ministers under fire for claiming for tax advice on their parliamentary expenses.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) warned last night that expenses claimed for accountancy fees for completing personal tax returns were liable for tax.



It followed the latest disclosure in The Daily Telegraph - which has obtained details of all MPs expenses claims - that 42 ministers had claimed a total of £25,000 for tax advice.



Ten ministers, including Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, last night issued a statement insisting that they had paid the tax that was due.



Gordon Brown's spokesman indicated that the Prime Minister was satisfied with their explanation - although he said a reminder was being issued to other members of the Government that they must meet their tax liabilities.



"To the best of our knowledge, ministers do appear to have honoured their tax liabilities and will continue to do so. That was made clear in the statement that was put out last night," the spokesman said.



"Obviously, we are in the process of checking whether ministers who are in this position are paying the tax that is due.



"We will obviously be making it clear to ministers that if there is any tax that has not been paid, it should be paid."



The spokesman said it was a matter for individual MPs and the Commons Fees Office whether ministers claimed Parliamentary expenses for tax advice.



HMRC refused to comment on a BBC report that it had begun an investigation into whether the MPs concerned had broken the law. It stressed however that it was very effective in policing that tax rules.



"We cannot comment on the tax affairs of clearly identifiable groups of taxpayers. One of our key roles is policing the tax rules and we do this very effectively to all of our customers right across the board," a spokesman said.



"It's a general principle of tax law that accountancy fees incurred in connection with the completion of a personal tax return are not deductible. This is because the costs of complying with the law are not an allowable expense against tax.



"This rule applies across the board."



Last night's statement, issued by the Labour Party, covered seven Cabinet members including International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon and Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell.



Schools Minister Jim Knight, Local Government Minister John Healey, Foreign Office Minister Gillian Merron and Sheffield Hillsborough MP Angela Smith also signed up to it.



In it they said: "To the best of my knowledge I am satisfied that I have honoured all my tax liabilities and will continue to do so.



"The House of Commons Fees Office provide all Members with a P11D form which states all claims including those that are taxable.



"This includes professional services such as accountants.



"The Member then exhibits this form in their self assessment or passes to their accountant to process on their behalf."



The Daily Telegraph reported that at least seven ministers, including Mr Miliband, employed Dennis Bates, the husband of former foreign office minister Meg Munn, to complete their returns.



Ministers who have made claims using other tax advisers include Olympics minister Tessa Jowell, Universities Secretary John Denham, Europe minister Caroline Flint and Treasury minister Angela Eagle.



Gareth Thomas, the consumer affairs minister, claimed more than £1,000 for accountancy services to help him recover an overpayment of more than £2,000 made to the tax authorities during a previous year, the Daily Telegraph said.



The paper also claims that although ministers have said the advice was necessary for their work as MPs, the receipts make it clear that they were given help with their "personal" tax affairs.



Meanwhile, the "Star Chamber" panel set up by Labour's ruling national executive committee to investigate complaints against MPs was beginning its first hearings into backbenchers Elliot Morley, Ian Gibson, and Margaret Moran.



Party sources indicated that the process would take several days and that no announcements were expected today.



Ms Moran said that she would not be attending due to ill health but she would be sending a representative.



On a campaign visit to North Shields, Mr Brown said that action was being taken to deal with MPs who had misbehaved.



"I assure you, we are taking the action necessary," he said.



"Any MPs who have misbehaved will be dealt with, any MP who has to be disciplined as a result of what they have done will be disciplined, anybody who cannot stand at the next election because of what they have done, we will take the action that is necessary."

News
people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

QA/BA - Agile

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

PPA Supply Teachers

£121 - £142 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Early Years, KS1 & 2 Prima...

Primary Supply Teacher

£121 - £142 per annum: Randstad Education Luton: Early Years, KS1 & 2 Prim...

Primary Supply Teacher

£121 - £142 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Primary supply teacher Hertford...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?